broadway shows

Rivalry: A blue and green musical

Jerald Uy

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Usher in 2013 with this original Filipino musical

RIVALS IN LOVE. From left: Tommy (Jeremy Aguado), Reena (Cara Baredo) and Quito (Nelsito Gomez) perform 'What If' composed by Ed Gatchalian. Photo and video by Jerald Uy

MANILA, Philippines – “Are you from any of these two schools (Ateneo and La Salle)?” musical arranger and executive producer Ed Gatchalian asked this writer during the press conference of “Rivalry” on November 13.

“No, I’m from UP,” I answered. The audience laughed. (What’s funny about coming from UP? I thought.)

“Okay! Have you seen the show?”

“Not yet, sir.”

“Then see it. When you see it, you’ll know why it is okay to be in UP.”

How an Isko (short for “Iskolar ng Bayan,” what UP students are called) figures into a story about a La Sallite and an Atenean fighting over a girl still an enigma, at least for those who have not watched “Rivalry,” an aptly-titled musical about the rift between the two schools that has sort of become part of the school “tradition.”

The musical is now on its second run, and producer the 4th Wall Theatre Company wants to break the stereotypes associated with the show.

“Like Miss Saigon is not about the Vietnam War, this show is not about Ateneo and La Salle; not really.

“It’s how the conflict affects people’s lives — not just the [students], but also the members of their families,” lyricist Joel Trinidad said.

Director Jaime del Mundo said they spent time creating a story that will touch everyone “universally.”

“Although on the surface it is about the Ateneo-La Salle rivalry, it goes much, much deeper and actually touches us as human beings with relationships — with our friends, siblings, lovers, partners and parents,” the director explained.

Something old 

Do not expect any Chris Tiu and Ty Tang archetypes in “Rivalry.”

The story is set in 1968, the year before De La Salle University and Ateneo de Manila University started accepting female students.

“[For me] that was the height of the intensity of the rivalry,” said Gatchalian. “It was not limited to basketball… it was in the student elections, the debate societies, it was in everything — including Saturday night parties.”

Gatchalian said it was “a bummer” for the darker-skinned Ateneans that the fairer-skinned La Sallites (today they are called La Sallians) would always grab the attention of women whenever they entered a party. 

“They always caught the eye of women; that’s where the rivalry was,” recalled Gatchalian, an Ateneo alumnus. “We couldn’t really do something about it because they were better-looking.

“But we were the ones who engaged the women in conversations. They would end up spending the whole night with us.”

“Today, the kind of rivalry that I see between Ateneo and La Salle is only about the basketball games. That’s it.

“But during my time, the pride about studying in Ateneo or in La Salle brought the rivalry to its height,” Gatchalian said.

Here’s a scene acted out in the presscon where the character Reena (Cara Baredo), a Maryknoller, is being teased about “the boy from La Salle”:

Something new

For those who watched the first run of “Rivalry” last January, you might see new numbers and a slightly different ending this time around.

“This is the beauty — or the weakness — of an original musical. When you bring ‘Phantom of the Opera’ here, you can’t mess up things. You can’t change it,” said Gatchalian.

The first run had 38 shows. Even then, there would be changes in-between shows, including shifts of focus on characters in the ending.

“Once, I had to write a new song and that song had to be orchestrated overnight. Then it had to be taught to (actor) Jeremy Aguado overnight. He performed it the day after,” the executive producer recalled.

The cast for the second run of “Rivalry” has yet to be finalized.

The first run’s lead actor, Red Concepcion (brother of singer Sam Concepcion), was not able to attend the press conference because of unknown medical reasons, the producers said.

The theater company is working with a smaller cast — from 51 to 39 actors — due to economic reasons, Gatchalian said.

He added that they will only hold 16 shows on the second run because they could not find another available venue that could match the needs of the story.

“The sad situation that we have here is that we have something to show the world,” Gatchalian said. 

“Personally, I don’t think it’s gonna make it to Broadway because the material is not interesting enough.

“But that does not mean that the quality that is supposed to be globally accepted is not there.

“I say that not out of boasting, but of pride in my heart that we have something to show the world.” –

Tickets for the second run of “Rivalry” will be available starting November 15 at Ticketworld outlets. The musical opens on January 25, 2013 at the Meralco Theater in Ortigas Avenue, Pasig City.

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